Tag Archives: Chemo vacation

Live Blogging from the Chemo Chair: Cycle 6.1, Good Medicine?

Thursday I began Cycle 6 of my chemo — the last cycle!

My Chemo Date was the incomparable Dr. Amy, one of my favorite veterinarians. We had a lovely lunch at Meadowlark Restaurant. (And I continue with my brain block for taking photos of lunch.) I had the most luscious BLT. The bacon was Amish and piled about two inches high at the middle. The lusciousness came from the locally grown yellow tomatoes, cut in one-half inch thick slices and so juicy! Dr. Amy had a grilled sharp white cheddar cheese sandwich with apricot chutney. She was in bliss!

9-6-15 Amy and Bev

The Chemo Cafe felt quiet, I don’t know why. I miss the ladies of the afternoon snack cart — they do not visit the Chemo Cafe on Thursdays like they do on Tuesdays. They’re volunteers and maybe there’s no one to cover Thursdays.

The peacefulness of the Chemo Cafe was in direct contrast to my just-finished chemo vacation, which is best described as crowded, loud, and busy. In fact, I think I over did things a little. But sometimes wonderful events happen that must not be ignored.

9-6-15 Book of Mormon logo

 

9-6-15 Book of Mormon

I saw “The Book of Mormon” with my pals on the Sunday after my last treatment — which is my “bad” day (it wasn’t my bad day when my treatments were on Tuesday, as they were when we bought the tickets). But I’m glad I went because I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time! Laughter is good medicine.

9-6-15 cousins

The next day we had a short-notice visit from a couple of my cousins (and their hubbies) — who we hadn’t seen in nearly ten years! They were on their way from North Carolina up to Thunder Bay, Ontario where they were attending a wedding. We took the easy way out and got deli salads and meats the day before, which made a nice lunch. Time with family — even when unexpected — is good medicine.

I had two separate lunches with two dear friends, met another dear friend for coffee, and met my former co-workers for dinner. Time with friends is good medicine.

9-6-15 Team meeting

And we did an update to the entertainment center in our living room. Of course, this meant emptying out all the gewgaws stored in the two side display towers plus the DVD/video player and amplifier we never use ( which might not make a return appearance), and summoning the Salvation Army to remove three of the five pieces of outdated entertainment center. Then my pal Sharon came by with her massive farm pickup truck and together we went to the Antique Mall to pick up the new-old buffet that will be the new center piece of our entertainment center. Updating your digs is good medicine.

The newest member of our house, Warren Buffet.

The newest member of our house, Warren Buffet.

But now I’m faced with restoring all the gewgaws to the two display towers. That includes re-attaching the glass doors, re-setting the glass shelves, and re-circuiting the display lights (because the on/off switch was on one of the three pieces that the Salvation Army hauled away). Ah! Bah! A challenge is good medicine!

I’ve started a business plan for the next act of my work life. This is also good medicine.

I think this was my most active chemo vacation. I probably should have rested more then the short naps I managed to occasionally grab. But in spite of that, I’m back at the Chemo Cafe feeling fine, with a sense of purpose.

Sixteen treatments down, two treatments left to go! Siggy, the cancer, is a war I will be facing for years to come. But this first big battle is nearly over, and that’s really good medicine!

9-6-15 Chemo Countdown 2

Second Chemo Vacation

Ah! Here we are at the end of my second chemo vacay, and I confess that I’m not looking forward to Tuesday.

My Buttercups are in bloom!

My Buttercups are in bloom!

This week has been delightful. Coming into it, I had no constipation issues to recover from, giving me a couple of extra days of “no symptoms.” I start to get tired towards late afternoon, but I have decent energy reserves in the morning and after lunch. My hair loss continues — and I continue to be annoyed that it’s the hair on top of my head that’s falling out and not the postmenopausal hair above my lip.

5-30-15 Geraniums

With two cycles of Gemma Chemo treatments out of the way, I can make observations on my quality of life during chemo. Chemo Week starts on a Tuesday, and I wake up feeling mostly ready for the battle. Wednesday, I’m under the influence of the steroids I got in my Chemo Cocktail on Tuesday. If I have anything that requires physical labor, this is the day to get it done. Midway through Thursday the steroids start to wear off and by dinnertime I’m yawning. Friday seems to be my crash and burn day — I feel “blah” with very little energy. Saturday and Sunday get better and by Monday I start to feel like there’s more to life then snoozing on the recliner. Repeat for two more weeks and then it’s vacation time.

Regarding bowel movements (because you know I can’t do a blog post without mentioning poop), I’ve found that if I’m proactive by drinking my Phillips at bedtime on Tuesday, then Wednesday is not so “hard” (get it?) to manage. I’ve also found that I do better if at least one of my meals (usually dinner) is a large salad (for fiber content). I’m still fine-tuning the dosage amounts for the Phillips and the stool softeners. Yeah, I know it’s gross. But who else is going to tell you the truth about this if not me?

Me and Mr. Phillips. It's a beautiful relationship!

Me and Mr. Phillips. It’s a beautiful relationship!

AltoidesNearly every day, by mid afternoon, I get a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t know how to describe it. I understand that some chemo therapies give the patient a metallic taste —  but that’s not what I get. It’s just something nasty on the back of my tongue, at my jaw. Brushing my teeth helps, but it’s not a cure. Eating lots of Altoids helps — but then anything I consume afterwards has a peppermint flavor. I’m deducing that it has to do with my digestion — since it’s not there first thing in the morning, appearing after I’ve had a couple of meals — and I’m hoping that it’s due to the chemo and not due to the parts of my digestive system that were removed back in February. I guess I’ll find out in September when I’m done with chemo.

I have trouble sleeping during my chemo weeks. I wake up two or three times during the night (which adds to my feeling of exhaustion). These last few days of chemo vacation, I’ve slept right through to 6:30 AM. I’ll be going into Chemo Cycle 3 feeling somewhat rested, as if I really did take a vacation from work.

My roses are blooming

My roses are blooming

I had a red rash on my hips around the third week of Chemo Cycle 1, and ended up with a red rash on my left leg around the third week of Chemo Cycle 2. The Oncologist has classified both of these as allergic reactions (but not an allergy to Gemma Chemo). After nearly a week of vacation, the Red Rash Scrounge is nearly all gone, though my left ankle and foot are still a bit swollen. I’m a little anxious to see what kind of rash develops during Cycle 3. And where it will be located.

I’ve started wearing compression stockings, after two of my doctors made the recommendation. So now, when I go out of the house, I have on my compression stockings, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a wide-brimmed hat. I’m dressing like an old lady to protect my skin from the sun. And because I’m always a little tired, I tend to walk slower than my usual fast gait. This is something I need to address, because I don’t feel like an old lady. I’m going to experiment with turning my slower gait into a cougar-like slink.

5-30-15 yellow rose

 

In spite of all this sh*t, I find I’m smiling more. There is nothing wonderful about chemo, but there is something wonderful about being forced to slow down. My flower beds look beautiful. I have a lovely camping cot on the patio where I take naps in the afternoon. I’m spending time with my friends. I’m having a great time just relaxing and going with the flow. I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to simply enjoy living in the moment.

My patio cot

My patio cot

The view from my patio cot.

The view from my patio cot.

Dinner with my pals!

Dinner with my pals!

Yep. Something good coming out of something bad.

 

First Chemo Vacation

It’s a beautiful day as I approach the end of my first chemo vacation week, and I feel like my pre-chemo self — in fact, better than my pre-chemo self because I’ve lost over thirty pounds and I’m fitting into clothes I’ve had to sideline because they were too tight.

I won’t mince words, last week sucked.  Once again I found myself on the torture throne of constipation. Wednesday and Thursday were all about having a movement, Friday and Saturday were all about trying to recover from the movement.  It’s obvious this means changes to the Constipation Plan. Drastic changes. Or I run the risk of blowing out my eyeballs.

On the positive side, my surgery is almost done healing. Not too long ago, I wrote about how I couldn’t sleep on my side because it felt like my internal organs were trying to tear away from whatever had them anchored into place. In the last few days this has changed, and I find I’m once again able to lay on my sides without feeling like my insides are about to shift and fall out. The last several nights I haven’t awakened at 4 a.m. Instead I’ve slept right through until 7 — something I was not able to do during my 3 weeks of treatments.

I think all of our flowering trees peaked last weekend when I was too miserable to go out and take photos, but here are some I took on Tuesday:

Flowering crab Weeping cherry

I hope the second cycle is easier than the first cycle — I’d like to think I know what to expect now, and I have my next vacation week to look forward to. And the weather is helping. But like a vampire, I have to be careful of the sunshine — even though it feeds my soul! I’m not fond of the sun screen I’m forced to wear, but it must be done. Welcome sunny days!